- Cattle production is a widely distributed enterprise in Kenya.
- Most farming communities choose between the exotic and the’ local breeds or their crosses depending on the environmental conditions.
- Whereas the backbone of beef industry in Kenya is made up of the indigenous animals and their crosses, and based in the somewhat drier areas, the-dairy industry is mainly based on the exotic breeds and their crosses and common in the wetter regions of Kenya.
- Whatever production undertaken, the returns depend mostly on the management levels provided to these animals.
- A productive herd starts with good management of the young stock.
Raising of Young· Stock.
- The young one of cattle is known as a calf.
Feeding Dairy Calves
- Newborn calves should be given colostrums within the first 3-5 days of their life.
Colostrum is important for the following reasons:
- It is highly digestible.
- It contains antibiotics.
- It is highly nutritious.
- It serves as a laxative.
- It is highly palatable.
- Calves can be fed using natural method (direct suckling) or artificially/bucket feeding.
- In this method, calves suckle the mother directly.
- The calf takes milk at body temperature.
- The milk is free from contaminants.
- Less problems of scouring.
- Underfeeding of the calf may result.
- Cows may not let down milk in case the calf dies.
- Difficult to keep accurate production records.
- The calf is trained to feed from the bucket immediately after birth.
The calf is trained as follows:
- Well measured milk is put in a clean bucket.
- Index finger is inserted into the mouth of the calf.
- The head of the calf is lowered slowly into the bucket until the calf starts to drink the milk.
- The finger is withdrawn slowly as the calf continues to drink from the bucket.
- The procedure is repeated until the calf gets used to the process.
- Easy to keep accurate production record/milk yields of the cow.
- Possible to regulate the amount of milk given to the calf
- The cow does not need the presence of the calf in order to let down milk
- Easy to maintain high hygiene standards.
- Calf may be given cold milk
- Equipment used and the stockman may be dirty leading to scours
Preparation of artificial colostrums
- A fresh egg whipped in 0.86 litres of warm water
- Litre of warm water
- One teaspoonful of cod liver oil
- One tablespoonful of castor oil
- Note; colostrums is fed to the calves three times a day for the first 4 days of life and thereafter twice a day.
Weaning of calves
- Calf is fed on whole milk up to the tenth week then it is weaned
- Calf is given milk equal to 10% of its body weight up to the 8th week
- After 8th week, milk is reduced gradually by 1 kg until weaning
Calf is given early weaning concentrates and soft forage
- Calf is fed on whole milk up to the 3rd week, when milk is replaced gradually with skim milk.
- At the age of 3weeks the calf is introduced to calf pellets or pencils and green fodder.
- The calf is given plenty of clean water.
- The calf continues to be given additional skim milk up to the age of 14 weeks when maximum amount of milk is given.
- Skim milk is reduced from 14 weeks to 16 weeks when weaning is done.
Rearing of replacement stock
- The replacement stock includes young heifers and bulls which have been selected for breeding to replace the old stock.
Parasite control-Spraying against external parasites and deworming against internal parasites.
Disease control-Calves are vaccinated routinely against diseases such as;
- Blackquater-at 4 months old.
- Anthrax and Blackquater at 6 months old
- Brucellosis – 3-8 months old (heifers).
Castration – for male calves not selected for breeding.
Identification – Suitable methods are used. It allows proper record keeping.
Removal of Extra Teats ;
- These teats are known as supernumerary teats which make milking of the animal difficult.
- They are clipped off with teat clippers.
Dehorning/Disbudding – The removal of horn buds using suitable methods.
- Requirement of a Calf Pen;
- Should be clean and easy to clean.
- Be warm and dry.
- Have adequate space to allow exercise and feeding.
- Should be properly lit and allow sunlight for Vitamin D.
- Have proper drainage to avoid dampness.
- Draught free to prevent chilling.
- Be well ventilated to allow fresh air.
Types of Pens
These can be;
- Have a solid floor raised above the ground.
- The floor should be slanted for drainage.
- Constructed near the milking parlour.
- Have an open floor to allow grass into the pen.
- Easily moved from one place to another to avoid soiling.
- Kept outdoors in the pastures to allow the calf to nibble on pastures.
- Calves should be housed singly up to the age of 3 weeks, when they are put in group pens.
- This is to avoid them licking each other and swallowing hairs which form indigestible balls.
Milk and Milking
- Milk is the white lacteal substance secreted by the mammary glands of the female mammals.
Composition of Milk
- Protein – Casein and whey.
- Fat – Butter fat.
- Carbohydrates – Lactose
- Minerals – mainly calcium and phosphorus.
Factors Affecting Milk Composition
- Age of the animal.
- Conditions of the animal.
- Stage of lactation and pregnancy.
- Completeness of milking.
- Type of breed.
- Season of the year.
- Type of food eaten.
- Physiological conditions such as diseases.
Milk Secretion and Milk Let-down
- Milk is secreted by the mammary glands which is an accessory gland of the reproductive system.
- The mammary gland of a cow is known as an udder.
The udder is composed of the following parts:
- Alveolus cells – synthesize and secrete milk.
- Lobule – a group of alveolus cells.
- Lobe – Several lobules grouped together and drained by lactiferous ducts.
- Gland cistern – space where milk collects from the lobes.
- Teat cistern – A space where milk collects before emission.
- Teat -An organ which drains each quarter of the udder.
- The process of milk secretion is known as lactogenesis.
- The digested food is taken to the udder via blood vessels.
- In the udder the nutrients are carried into the alveoli cells where metabolic reactions take place to build up these nutrients into milk.
- A hormone prolactine is secreted by pituitary gland which brings about lactogenesis.
- The milk secreted is then stored in the upper parts of the udder waiting to be released.
- The process of milk let-down occurs naturally when the animal is stimulated.\
- Milk secreted moves from alveolar region through the ducts to the gland cistern.
- Oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland causes the contraction of the udder muscles forcing the milk down the teats.
- Oxytocin hormone lasts 7 -10 minutes in the blood stream hence fast milking is important to withdraw the milk.
- Milk is withdrawn from the teats by gently squeezing them.
Factors Influencing Milk Let-Down
- Presence of the calf.
- Presence of the milkman/milker.
- Rattling of the milk equipment.
- Site of the food/feeding the animal.
- Massaging or washing the udder.
- Sight of the milk parlour.
Factors Inhibiting Milk Let-Down
- Beating the animal/inflicting pain to the animal.
- Presence of strangers and animals for example dogs.
- Poor milking techniques.
- Absence of the calf (in case the cow is used to it).
Clean Milk Production
The following factors are essential for clean milk production:
- A healthy lactating cow.
- A healthy and clean milker.
- Clean and properly constructed milking parlour.
- Clean and disinfected milking equipment.
- Proper handling of the milk after milking.
- The animals are brought near the milking parlour 15-20 minutes before milking to get into the mood of being milked.
- Milking materials such as equipment, feeds, ropes, stools and salve are collected and placed near the milking parlour.
- The animals are allowed into the milking stall one by one as the milking proceeds as follows:
- The animal is restrained in the stall.
- Feed is weighed and placed into the feed trough.
- The udder is thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried with a clean cloth.
- A strip cup is used to test for mastitis on each quarter.
- Milking proceeds by squeezing the teats with the full hand. If machine milking the teat cups are placed on the teats.
- For hand milking start with the hindquarters and finish with the forequarters.
- Fast milking should take about 8 minutes then end with stripping the udder.
- The milk is weighed and recorded.
- The animal is then released.
Dry Cow Therapy
- This is the infusion of antibiotics into the teat canal of a cow that is preparing for drying off.
- It prevents bacterial infection which leads to mastitis.
- Pasteurized milk – milk that is heated and cooled immediately.
- Ultra Heat Treated (UHT) – milk heated to a temperature of 130-135C, packed and then cooled.
- Butter – Milk butter fat separated by a process known as churning.
- Cream -A layer of is: that collects at the top of the milk when left to stand.
- Cheese – Milk proteins which have been compressed.
- Ghee – Milk fat made from heating cream or butter.
- Skim milk – Milk without butter fat.
Marketing of Milk
- The Kenya Dairy Board regulates the production and sale of milk and milk products through various Dairy Co-operative Societies.
- Processors and distributors of milk and milk products include;
- Brookside Dairies,
- Delamere Dairies
- Limuru Dairies.
Marketing of Beef
Done by the following:
- Individual fanners through the local slaughter house.
- Livestock marketing division.
- Kenya Meat Commission.
- Farmer’s Choice.